The deity of the diamond declared that the Chicago Cubs were not to win Tuesday night in Cincinnati, granting the Reds their second straight series sweep. The Cubs played embarrassing defense throughout the game, creating some of the most ridiculous plays the Reds have seen since the days of Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion. In order to cement their reputation as the worst “fundamentals” team in baseball, the Cubs failed on several occasions to advance runners in scoring position with less than two outs.
The Reds scored 7 runs, all of which were of the unearned variety. When playing the Cubs, the opposing team doesn’t need to collect hits. Simply putting the ball in play can produce offense against the Cubs porous defense. Hell, Miguel Cairo didn’t even have to put the ball in play to reach base. Pinch hitting for Volquez in the bottom of the 6th, Cairo reached base on a dropped third strike.
You can view the low-lights and madness here. Three of the strangest plays ever, all courtesy of the clueless Cubbies.
Mark Sheldon wrote a nice summary with some quotes.
Vociferously Venting on Volquez, Yet My Vision Verifies Value
Can you think of any Reds’ pitcher in recent memory as frustrating as the 2011 version of Edinson Volquez? I can’t. Sure, we’ve seen our fair share of shaky pitchers, and guys who were just flat-out bad. But Volquez is different. When E-Vol is pitching well, he’s as good as anybody in baseball. For 5 innings against the Cubs, Volquez looked like the 2008 version of himself. Despite giving up a 3-run HR in the first, Volquez posted a quality start. He went 6 innings, allowed only 3 runs, and struck out 9.
It’s easy to get frustrated with Volquez. Certainly he is not pitching like an ace. Nonetheless, the Reds are 6-3 when Volquez starts. He’s allowed 3 runs or fewer in 6 of his 9 starts.. He’s pitched 5 or more innings in every start but one this year. So, while his high pitch counts prevent him from going deep into games, Volquez isn’t pitching so poorly that Dusty is forced to turn to the bullpen for more than 4 innings.
The point is, looking at the ERA isn’t enough to make a judgment on Volquez. If you’ve watched him pitch, you know that he is not far from returning to dominance. He’s striking out more than 9 batters per 9 innings – his stuff is still nasty. Hold off on sending E-Vol down to AAA. I have a feeling he will put this team on his shoulders at some point this year, and become that true ace again. Let’s just hope he finds that release point.
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*Thanks to @adamturer (Adam Turer) for helping with the headline